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Charleston VAMC goes smoke-free

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is soon joining the rest of the Veterans Health Administration in implementation of a smoke-free campus at its medical center, its community outpatient clinics and off-site locations.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is soon joining the rest of the Veterans Health Administration in implementation of a smoke-free campus at its medical center, its community outpatient clinics and off-site locations.

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center will soon join the rest of the Veterans Health Administration in implementation of a smoke-free campus at its medical center, its community outpatient clinics and off-site locations

This change is consistent with the VA’s mission to promote a healthy environment for patients, visitors, vendors, volunteers, contractors and employees and is an important step to improving the health care system.

“We are looking forward to taking this step to provide a healthy and healing environment for our Veterans and their families,” said Charleston VAMC Director & CEO Scott Isaacks. “Our Veterans deserve to receive care in an atmosphere that is safe and that parallels the medical advice given to them by their clinical care team.”

As part of the medical district downtown, Charleston VAMC’s smoke-free policy now aligns with policies at both The Medical University of South Carolina and Roper Hospital. This step promotes the wellbeing of patients, staff and the public throughout Charleston’s medical district.

There is currently overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks, and a growing body of evidence that exposure to thirdhand smoke creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care. To fulfill their commitment to Veterans, Charleston VAMC must be mindful of situations that are harmful to Veteran health. The VA’s policy covers all smoking material including, but not limited to: cigarette, cigars, pipes, electronic smoking substitutes, like e-cigarettes and vape pens, and any other combustion of tobacco.

“For decades we’ve been counseling Veterans and staff on the benefits of quitting smoking and offering smoking cessation tools to help them quit,” said Isaacks. “We have the tools in place to assist Veterans who want to quit smoking and we hope that increasing awareness of these resources encourages more Veterans and staff to take advantage of the free options.”

Research shows that a person has the best chance of quitting tobacco for good when they use tobacco cessation medication and take part in tobacco cessation counseling. Both options are available for Veterans at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC. A Veteran interested in these treatments can contact their Primary Care Team. Veterans interested in group counseling can join the Tobacco Cessation Group meeting on Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. This is a walk-in group; no appointment is necessary. Check-in on the 5th floor of the medical center at room A501. Group and one-on-one meetings are also available at Charleston VAMC’s community outpatient clinics. For more information on clinic resources click here.

There is also additional VA support for Veterans that can be great resources for Veterans with busy schedules:

  • Smoking Quitline: a counselor will help you create your own personal quit plan over the phone when you call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838).
  • Smokefreevet Text Service: a free text messaging service that sends daily support, advice, and encouragement directly to your mobile phone. Sign up for the program in English by texting the word VET to 47848 from your mobile phone or by visiting www.smokefree.gov/VET. For Spanish, text VETesp to 47848 or visit www.smokefree.gov/VETespanol.
  • Stay Quit Coach App: an app specifically designed to help Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) quit smoking. It has been shown to double quit rates for Veterans with PTSD. Stay Quit Coach is available for free one the Apple iTunes store. Learn more at mobile.va.gov/app/stay-quit-coach.

Occupational health offers free tobacco treatment services for employees who are interested in quitting smoking. VA employees have access to nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches, gum and lozenges. Employee wellness also provides support to employees by helping them develop a personal quit plan, establish support to quit smoking, clarify reasons to quit, and minimize withdrawal symptoms. Employees who are interested in quitting can make an appointment with Occupational Health by calling 843-789-7300 or visiting room B164.

With the support of Veterans, staff and the community, Charleston VAMC welcomes a smoke-free campus at the medical center and each of its outpatient clinics. This change is an extension of the VA’s commitment to provide the highest-quality health care for Veterans in an environment that encourages a quality, healthy lifestyle.

To read VHA Directive 1085: Smoke-Free Policy for Patients, Visitors, Vendors, Volunteers and Contractors at VA Health Care Facilities click here.

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